It almost looked like some confused school bus driver had lost his way and ended up in the OKC Pride Parade.
But the appearance of the big yellow school bus Sunday was no error.
Oklahoma City Public Schools has made a major shift from silence to active involvement in affirming LGBTQ students with a recent Board of Education resolution and a planned appearance in the parade.
Kelley Kammerlocher was in her first Pride Parade.
In fact, it was her first parade to be in, ever.
“I can’t even talk in front of grown-ups,” said Kammerlocher, a seventh-grade teacher at Jefferson Middle School. “I’m really nervous talking to you.”
But she wasn’t nervous to ride in the familiar bus and hang out the window waving at the crowd.
She had made a heart-shaped sign that read “I love all my students” and held it outside the window the whole parade route.
She explained that she overcame her nervousness about appearing or speaking outside of her classroom because she is an advocate for all her students and wanted to take that to a public level.
Another teacher at Jefferson, Cara Kirby, marched with the bus in its inaugural trip along the parade route.
She wasn’t shy about her advocacy of her students and others who are outside of heterosexual norms.
“It felt incredible,” said Kirby. “I really feel proud to march for my students and for everybody.”
She also seemed proud of her district for the new stance taken on all its unique students.
“I believe in equal rights for everyone. It’s a really big and important move for Oklahoma City Public Schools,” said Kirby.
When placed against the backdrop of the history of public school teaching, the two teachers’ appearance in the parade was extraordinary.
Not that many decades ago, teachers were expected to resign if they even got pregnant. Even that hint of closeness to sex was too much.
But the OKCPS board of education has made it more permissible for teachers to speak out and advocate for their LGBTQ students and be open about their own orientation.